LRT English Newsletter – February 21, 2020
The plane of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the notorious ‘Putin’s chef’ behind Russia’s private military company Wagner and its campaigns in Ukraine and Syria, was spotted in Vilnius.
Weeks later, MPs rallied to investigate how and why it landed in the Lithuanian capital.
Turns out, the plane arrived to be serviced by a Lithuanian aviation company. According to the border guard service, the country can’t prevent entry to individuals and assets that are on the US, and not the EU, sanctions list. Although, the plane ended up departing Lithuania without receiving repairs, a company rep said.
The MPs turned to the foreign ministry to press for EU sanctions. However, Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius said the country failed to convince other member states to sanction Prigozhin before. The answer could be applying the so-called Magnitsky laws domestically, said an MP.
The new immigration laws in post-Brexit Britain could lead to the return of illegal businesses that offer passage to the UK. The practice led to trafficking and abuse and was prevalent among Lithuanians before the country joined the EU, according to the country’s community rep in Britain.
The filming of Netflix’s Stranger Things finished last weekend. Unfortunately, the producers didn’t reveal when the show would be aired. Here are some photos from the filming in the Lukiškės prison, meanwhile.
Five Lithuanian cities might receive more funds to purchase electric buses. And while Vilnius opted for foreign made vehicles, Klaipėda acquired the first Lithuanian-produced electric buses.
Meanwhile, Lidl is ditching plastic bags completely. Some other competitors, however, are treading a different path.
LRT FACTS. GOODBYE SPUTNIK
In this week’s fact-checking story, we look at how Estonia forced Russia’s propaganda outlet Sputnik to close. As of January, the offices in Tallinn have been empty.
WHO CARES ABOUT CULTURE?
An unlikely scandal erupted this week when a winner of the prestigious National Culture and Arts Prize was barred from attending the ceremony at the presidential palace. Human error and administrative mistakes, cried the officials. It happened before, said the culture reps. Some observers claimed the episode reflected the neglect for the country’s art scene. More here.
As Lithuania marked the Independence Restoration Day on February 16, we retraced the story of the original act. Some said it was shredded by bees, others claimed it was forgotten and lost inside a book. Nope, said a Lithuanian historian, as he uncovered the document buried in Berlin archives.
Around the same time, another independence act – this time a remarkable declaration by Lithuania's anti-Soviet partisans – was located in Vilnius.
As yellow-green-red fluttered across the country, the world’s tallest skyscraper in Dubai also lit up in Lithuanian colours. Have a look.
Lithuania was handed a final blow in the court case against Russia’s Gazprom. Vilnius sought 1.4 billion euros in compensation for the gas supplied at inflated rates. And although the court initially ruled in Lithuania’s favour, it did not grant the payout.
Amid another energy stand-off with Moscow, Belarus threatened to tap Russia’s transit pipeline. As Belarus’ supplies dwindled, Minsk called for alternative import routes. Lithuania, according to President Gitanas Nausėda, is helping retain Minsk its sovereignty by providing shipment routes via Klaipėda. Two more crude shipments are due to arrive soon.
THE ROOP IS ON FIRE
How Russia’s transit corridor to Kaliningrad nearly got in the way of Lithuania’s EU ambitions – read here.
In another installment from LRT solutions journalism project, we look at whether elderly care homes can be an answer to old-age problems in Lithuania.
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Written by Benas Gerdžiūnas